Despite the small engine bay, BMW have somehow managed to squeeze the 2.0-litre diesel engine from the 1-series into the MINI Cooper. The four-cylinder engine is designed to be fitted longitudinally in the 1-Series while the MINI requires a transverse installation, but BMW engineers have overcome the complexities and got the engine into place. So what does this mean for hot hatch fans?
The current MINI Cooper D offers 110bhp from it’s turbocharged 1.6-litre engine, a unit that was designed in partnership with PSA (the Peugeot Citroen group). In this Cooper D form the little MINI offers most of the handling prowess of the petrol version despite the heavier engine up front. Performance is a modest 0-62mph in 9.9 seconds and top speed of 121mph while returning an official average of 72mpg.
Now imagine what the performance would be like with the BMW unit. Although the 1-series offers 177bhp it is believed that the first of the hotter diesel Minis would offer 150bhp, but BMW say that they would be able to fit the twin-turbo 123d unit (yes, the one with 204bhp) under the bonnet. In the 1-Series the 123d gives 0-62mph in just 6.9 seconds yet is capable of around 54mpg, so in the smaller and lighter MINI we could end up with a stonkingly quick and very entertaining hot hatch that’s really cheap to run. If the 123d version gets the go-ahead it would very likely be badged up as a John Cooper Works edition.
BMW are planning to put the car into a pilot production phase in May, followed by full production next year. The new diesel Coopers should be unveiled at the next Geneva Motor Show in March.